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How to make good business decisions



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The process of making a decision is often more important than the decision itself. Tang Seok Hian, talent management director, South East Asia, at Starcom MediaVest Group, tells you how to make informed decisions which produce desirable results.

Last month, my eight-year old son had to make a decision. He needed to decide if he wanted to take up the third enrichment programme recommended by his school.

As he wished to keep to two enrichment classes, he immediately rejected the third one without much consideration, but I emphasised to him that we should make informed decisions, not easy ones.

So we went through the process of choosing two out of the three programmes, evaluating the criteria we used to select, and so on. The final outcome was still to reject the third programme, but the process was very different. And most importantly, the decision made was an informed one. We now know what we are receiving and what we are giving up.

Two years’ back, my company lost a big client and more than 100 employees were impacted directly across the Southeast Asia region. Winning and losing business in a consultancy setup is part of the business dynamic.

The usual decision taken by most agencies, given this scale of the situation, would be to retrench employees. However, we decided to retain our people and go for a stretch revenue target instead.

It was definitely not an easy decision, but the outcome was great – people appreciated and trusted the management.

Everyone got more aggressive and alert on new business opportunities, our reputation in the industry increased, and we had lots of applicants who wanted to be part of our culture.

 

We also achieved our stretch revenue target. Our decision was aligned to what we preached. We walked the talk.

As a manager who often has so many things to juggle, it is so tempting to make easy decisions (or not to make any at all, which itself is also an easy decision). For example:

·         Instead of coaching a staff back to performance, we transfer him/her to another unit.

·         Instead of giving regular or timely feedback when opportunity arises, we wait till the annual appraisal few months down the road and inform the staff that he/she is not performing.

·         Instead of imparting our thought process to our team, we solve the problems and do the thinking for them.

·         Instead of teaching our team how to do certain tasks and empower them to do it the next time, we do it for them.

·         Instead of taking responsibility for our team’s mistakes, we blame the doer.

·         Instead of understanding an employee’s perspective, we jump to conclusions and judge the behaviour.

The list goes on…

Every decision has its consequences – positive or negative ones. When we make easy decisions, often than not, we find ourselves having to make new ones out of guilt or for compensation. When we strive to make informed decisions, we know the implications and take responsibility of the consequences. And most importantly, we know why we chose to make that decision.

As an HR business partner, the key value we are providing to our leaders or business is really to help them make the best, informed decisions.

Food for thought

The next time you need to make a hefty – or even a seemingly small decision – ask yourself the following questions:

·         Under what circumstances do you tend to take the easy way out?

·         Do you catch yourself making easy decisions over informed ones?

·         What is the next significant decision you are going to make and how will you do it differently this time?



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